Chocolate and clementine macaroons with basil ganache

These delicate almond cookies are a real crowd-pleaser, and Maria Elia's take combines fruit and herb for a taste of the garden
By Maria Elia
Chocolate and clementine macaroons with basil ganache
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes plus 1 hour resting and chilling
  • Effort: hard

Ingredients

For the macaroons

  • 150 g finely ground almonds
  • 150 g icing sugar
  • 35 g unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 50 ml water
  • 110 g egg whites
  • 1 clementine, zest only, dried overnight in a low oven and blended to a powder

For the clementine and basil ganache

  • 1 small bunch basil
  • 2 clementines, zest only
  • 110 g double cream
  • 100 g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids, broken into small pieces

For the chocolate jelly

  • 75 g sugar
  • 75 g finely ground almonds
  • 40 g plain flour
  • 25 g cocoa powder
  • pinch salt
  • 40 g butter, melted

For the bitter chocolate and clementine sorbet

  • 275 ml water
  • 125 ml milk
  • 2 clementines, zest and juice (about 100ml)
  • 25 g caster sugar
  • 40 ml glucose
  • 50 g bitter cocoa powder
  • 125 g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids, broken into small pieces

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 140C/120C fan/gas 1. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.

2. For the macaroons: place the ground almonds, icing sugar and cocoa powder into a food processor and pulse to a fine consistency.

3. Place the caster sugar and water into a small pan and gently heat to 110C/230F (check using a sugar thermometer).

4. Measure out 50g of the egg whites and whisk to soft peaks. Then, while whisking continuously, slowly drizzle in the hot sugar syrup (take care not to let the syrup fall onto the moving whisk or it will splatter) until all of the sugar syrup has been incorporated and the mixture has cooled to about 45C/113F the mixture should feel just lukewarm.

5. Add the remaining unbeaten egg whites to the bowl and fold in. Fold in the icing sugar mixture and clementine powder in 2-3 additions, until the mixture is glossy and forms ribbons when dropped from the spatula.

6. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle and pipe 5-6cm/2-3in rounds onto the prepared baking tray. If any peaks form on the rounds, use a wet fingertip to gently push them back down. Set the tray aside for 30 minutes to allow the macarons to dry they should not stick to your finger when gently touched.

7. Bake the macarons for 15-20 minutes, or until the macarons have formed a spongy foot around the base and the tops are smooth and firm to the touch. Set aside to cool completely before peeling away from the parchment paper.

8. For the clementine and basil ganache: place the basil, Clementine zest and double cream in a small, heavy-based pan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and set aside to infuse for 30 minutes.

9. Place the chocolate into a bowl. Return the cream mixture to the boil, then strain it over the chocolate, discarding the basil and zest. Leave for a minute, then stir the mixture until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy.

10. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, spoon some of the ganache over the flat side of one macaroon shell and sandwich with another macaroon shell. Repeat with the remaining ganache and macaroon shells.

11. For the chocolate jelly: heat the milk with the basil in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Remove and set aside to cool, then strain through a sieve. Return to the pan with the sugar and agar-agar, then bring to the boil, whisking continuously. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
12. Remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate until melted, then pour into a container. Tap gently to remove any air bubbles, then set aside to cool slightly before placing into the fridge to set (about 20 minutes).

13. Preheat the oven to 150C/130C fan/gas 2.

14. For the chocolate soil: whisk the sugar, ground almonds, flour, cocoa and salt together, then add the melted butter. Spread the mixture over a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes.

15. Transfer the baked mixture to a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, or soil. Set aside.

16. For the bitter chocolate and clementine sorbet: place the water, milk, Clementine juice and zest, caster sugar and glucose in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.

17. Whisk in the cocoa powder and simmer for 2-3 minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly before pouring over the chocolate in a bowl. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy.

18. Strain the mixture and pour into the bowl of an ice cream maker. Churn according to the manufacturers instructions. When churned, spoon the sorbet into a container.

19. To serve, arrange the chocolate soil and chocolate jelly on plates and place a few macaroons alongside. Place a scoop of clementine and chocolate sorbet alongside.

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